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New interchange imperils businesses
Center Appliance would relocate operation if need be
The preferred realignment of the Lathrop Road interchange and how it would impact Manteca streets and property. - photo by CalTrans Rendering
Victor Fiore isn’t sure what’s going to happen with his business.

The building housing Center Appliance on North Main Street is in the path of a preferred reconfiguration of Main Street that would involve replacing two lanes with four lanes from just north of Northgate Drive to the new interchange at Lathrop Road targeted to break ground in 2012.

Improved property threatened by the interchange project includes Center Appliance, a Valero gas station, a modular home lot, a small business center and several residences.

The interchange is part of a $496 million Highway 99 road widening project between Arch Road and the 120 Bypass. The actual widening of the freeway from four to six lanes will start later this year with interchange work at Lathrop Road and French Camp Road to follow in 2012. It is being funded with Proposition 1B transportation bond receipts and Measure K transit sales tax.

While he awaits formal word from Caltrans about whether Fiore will need to relocate the business to accommodate the exact reconfiguration of the interchange that serves northeast Manteca, it will be business as usual at Center Appliance.

Either way, Fiore said Center Appliance isn’t going to die.

“The business will continue in one form or another, but we don’t have all of the details so we can’t make any decisions right now,” Fiore said. “Everything is still up in the air right now. Caltrans hasn’t contacted us with any details, and our situation is extremely complicated because of all of the entities involved.”

The business – which has been operating in Manteca since Fiore’s father opened the doors in 1949 – has been in its current location for more than three decades.

While Fiore acknowledges that the future could mean relocation, he isn’t stressing about something that hasn’t reached that point yet.

“With all of the tenants and businesses and homeowners involved it makes for a complex situation,” he said. “They haven’t come to us with any plans yet, so the property owners don’t know what’s going to happen.”

If the reconfiguration favored by residents were to be the choice by Caltrans – constructing a new interchange at Lathrop Road and removing the on and off ramps that serve Manteca at Main Street – businesses like Center Appliance would likely be taken through eminent domain in order to allow for the construction of the modern interchange to replace the 1955-era bridge.

The proposed interchange at Lathrop Road would include a bridge deck with four through lanes with the on and off ramps situated on the north side of Lathrop Road, and the ramps on the west side would be situated to tie in with North Main Street.

It would also eliminate the Main Street overcrossing and ramps.

The preferred option would also move Frontage Road on the east side of the freeway further east and create a new intersection with Lathrop Road away from the interchange.

The Frontage Road that currently runs along the west side of Highway 99 and past the Delta College satellite site, Perry & Sons and Delicato Vineyards will swing westward and align with Crestwood Avenue to create an intersection at Lathrop Road.

Regardless of the outcome, Fiore says that his Center Appliance business will continue to serve Manteca the way that it has for more than 60 years.

“We’re not going to close up shop over this,” he said. “I love interacting with the customers, and the repeat business that we get from people who have been coming here for years. I love working with my employees, which is fun and challenging – but challenging makes it fun.”

Center Appliance is located at 2001 N. Main Street. The business is open Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. It is closed Sunday. For more information, call 823-7681.